Tuesday, 20 March 2018

Tyler Johnson Was Here by Jay Coles

This story made me feel sad, angry and even afraid at times.  Tyler Johnson died when he shouldn't have.  He should have been safe in his own neighbourhood, but he wasn't.  Now his twin, Marvin, is left to figure out what happened to him and how to move forward.

With the unfailing support of his mother and his two closest friends, Ivy and G-mo, Marvin is able to search within himself and his community for answers.  Screaming back at him is the colour of his skin.  It is the first thing that a lot of people notice when they look at another person.

Did Tyler get caught up in a bad decision he made, or did some one look at him and decide that because of his skin colour he must be doing something bad.  Marvin experienced a lot of anguish as he broached these questions.  On top of that, he had to find the strength to face the media, his classmates and their opinions.

This is a powerful tale.  The first time I opened it and started reading, I closed it after a few pages.  I wasn't ready for the emotional impact I knew it was going to throw at me.  A few hours later, I cleared a block of time and dove in.  While I love the book and the main characters, I am sad that we still need these tales to be told.  I have faith, like Marvin, that we as a society can move forward and do what's right.  At present we need authors such a Jay Coles to present these stories and show us how to proceed.

This book would be a great subject for a class room discussion or to read as a family.

Cover image courtesy Hachette Book Group.

I received an advanced reader copy of this book from Indigo Books & Music Inc., in exchange for an honest review.


Monday, 19 March 2018

Stitch'n Time - missing in action

So sorry to have been missing in action.  Last week was March Break here in Ontario.  That meant I was extra busy at work with a week full of kid activities.  As you can imagine, helping present activities for up to 150 kids a day can be stressful.  While I didn't have much time for stitching, I did do crafts with the kids each day.

Pup Tag made during our Paw Patrol event
I was not surprising that kids really don't listen carefully to instructions.  It was worse that so few kids were able to use scissors.  Often their parents would swoop in and take the project away from them and do the cutting to their standards.  What good is that, the child still can't use the scissors and the child finishes the project much faster that expected.  This caused problems with our timing.  arg.  Hence, my stress.

Lumpy and bumpy, clearly in need of blocking when done.
This week I am on staycation and re cooping.  I did some knitting today.  I am on to the next section of my project and have moved to larger needles and two strands of the orange yarn.    It's knitting nicely, but sure is going to require a lot of blocking.  Since I had to wind one skein into two equal balls of wool, I used my kitchen scale to weigh the first ball i was winding.  Once the ball reached half the weight of the skein, I started the second ball.  Much better than guessing as I did with the first two colours.

After one of my shorter days last week, I was able to drop into the quilt shop and get a few supplies for a pillow cover I'm making for a co-worker.  I had planned to purchase some plain off white fabric for background, but when I spied this piece with text all over, I knew it would be so much better.  Remember, I work in a bookstore...  Now I have no excuse for not starting on this project.

Stitch'n Time is a weekly post where I share my progress (or lack there of) with my needlework projects.  You are welcome to use Mister Linky to add a link to your current needlework post.

Tuesday, 13 March 2018

Firesong by Adam Garnet Jones

Shane is torn between the person he is on the inside and the person he feels he needs to be on the outside.  In secret, he loves his boyfriend David and how close and understanding they are of each other and their needs.  On the outside, he is attentive to his girl friend Tara and goes through the motions expected of a dating couple.  At the same time he is struggling to accept the recent suicide of his younger sister Destiny and how it has devastated their mom.  He has been relying on Evie, a tribal elder, to help keep his mom at all functioning and yet he keeps hiding his relationship with her grandson.  A gay male on the rez is far from being an accepted thing.

Attending a university far from the rez is Shane's dream.  He figures it will be the only way for him to have a future with David.  Of course, it's far more complicated than he can cope with at that time.

I thought that this was going to be a nice romance between two young men on a rez, but it turned out to be much more.  First, Shane had to deal with his feelings of his mom letting him down during the toughest time of his life when he really needed her guidance.  The time had arrived when he had to address and fully embrace his sexual nature.  This wasn't easy to do on a reserve where male gay relationships were greeted with hostility.  What it brought to light for me was the politics that exist between the various tribes.  In my mind, I had an image of the different tribes working closely together for the benefit of all indigenous peoples.  I was naive in this respect and should have realized that each tribe/reserve is akin to an individual town with respect to bylaws and budgets.

Author Adam Garnet Jones really made me think and question what I thought were truths and any biases I held.  This would be an excellent study novel in high school classes.   Parents and teachers should be sure to check the study guide for this book at Annick Press.

I received an advanced reader copy of this book from Indigo Books & Music in exchange for an honest review.

Cover image courtesy Annick Press.

Friday, 9 March 2018

Erase the Difference - Canadian Mental Health Association, Ontario

Did you know that right now in Canada, when you are diagnosed with a Mental Health illness, the doctor will tell you to get councelling.  You are left on your own to try and find that care.  If and when you do find it, you then have to find the money to pay for the councelling.  This is wrong.  You have been diagnosed with an illness but you must pay for your care to get well, and it's not cheap.  If you are diagnosed with any other illness, OHIP pays for your treatment and the doctor who diagnosed you will send a referral for your follow-up care. 

This is not right.  Mental Health illness must be treated the same as other illnesses.  Please click the following link to sign a petition by the CMHA to demand this change.  Show your support, please sign.


Erase the Difference - Canadian Mental Health Association, Ontario: Canadian Mental Health Association, Ontario

Wednesday, 7 March 2018

Children of Blood and Bone by Tomi Adeyemi

Reading this novel was like body surfing waves at a beach.  The story would be going along smoothly, floating in the swell, and then all of a sudden it would peak and crash down the other side and I'd have to re-orient myself to the latest plot twist.  This style lured me in.  It gave these calm moments to get to know Zelie and her brother Tzain and learn why their mother was killed.

Zelie has inherited her mother's traits to work magic, but the king has killed all the magic practitioners and destroyed all their artifacts.  Zelie, at most, can only imagine what it might have been like to have followed in her mother's steps.

Amari and Inan are the children of the king and have been taught to fear magic due to the damage it has done to the the land and it's people.  Duty above all is the mantra that Inan repeats to himself whenever he questions his father's brutal tactics.  After witnessing her father commit an atrocity, Amari flees the castle in a bid for her freedom.

I was captivated as I followed the intersecting paths of these four young people.  For the most part, they acted as I expected with the exception of Inan.  While his motivation was clear, he struggled with his conscience on how to respond.  This helped make him seem very real.

I do admit to enjoying the addition of magic to a story.  It opens up so many possibilities for plot lines that keep me guessing. As I read along, I couldn't help but imagine the potential of the various maji and how they could benefit their society.

This story should appeal to a wide range of teen readers, though I feel that due to the violence, it is most suitable for older teens.

I received an advanced reader copy of this book from Indigo Books & Music Inc., in exchange for an honest review.


Tuesday, 6 March 2018

Hooked on a Phoenix by Ashlyn Chase

Did you read the Harry Potter books when they were first release.  If so you might recall that Professor Dumbledore has a phoenix as a pet(or is he more of a friend/familiar).  Also, that bird gave one feather, part of which is embedded in Harry's wand.  This is partly what prompted me to read this book, and also because I haven't come across a phoenix paranormal book previously.

Parker Carlisle is about to be stationed overseas when he asks his best friend, Gabe Fierro, to keep a brotherly eye on his younger sister Misty.  Gabe doesn't really want to do this, but how can he refuse his friend.  It's only Misty, the little sister that he hasn't seen in years.  It shouldn't be any trouble.   When he does see her sparks fly, little Misty has grown into a beautiful and appealing woman.  Gabe quickly realizes that it's going to be harder than he imagined to 'just' keep an eye out for her.

I really enjoyed this story.  It was fun and romantic.  I like the way that Misty turned the tables on a traditional romance.  The side line jealousy added some good plot twists that I wasn't expecting.

Once the story got going and I learned more about the phoenix shifting, I had no problems believing it.  It fit right in with the family career choice of fire fighting.  I absolutely love Gabe's mom.  She is the loving but no nonsense kind of mom that could easily handle a bunch of shifter males.  I could imagine her having a positive influence on Misty if her and Gabe's story were to continue.  This book is listed as the first book in a series, so I am hoping that future books will share the stories of his brothers and their partners.  Some of Gabe's brothers are introduced in Ms. Chase's earlier series Boston Dragons.

I received an advanced reader copy of this book from Sourcebooks Inc., in exchange for an honest review.


Monday, 5 March 2018

Stitch'n Time - Venturing in to Lace Knitting

I have a lot of stuff around my house.  I would love to be an organized person with regard to this stuff, but it's not happening.  One day while thinking about putting it all away in closets and cupboards, I realized, that out of sight out of mind, I would never get back to finishing those items.  Instead of finding a place to put them away to, why don't I finish them.  Great idea. Now when I open a bag or container to see what it's hiding, I form a plan to finish it.

 First up: I knew this one had a deadline and that it was sitting on the floor under my ironing board.  It's from a class I took with my mom and a friend early last year.  It was taught by quilter Jen Houlden.  She is a wonderful teacher and her class materials are detailed and most helpful.  The three of us accomplished quite a bit in the class, but didn't get finished.  We continued to work at them at home.  My got pushed to the side, but my persisted and finished hers.  She sent me a photo and said that she was going to show it at her local quilt show.  Of course, I jumped in and volunteered to finish mine, so it could also be in the show.  It would make a better presentation with two similar projects side by side.
Last week I started to get nervous that the show would soon be upon us.  I had to get stitching.  I liked that my friend made her piece into a pillow instead of a wall hanging, and decided to do the same.  Now my top is finished.  I need to purchase a zipper so that I can get it done.

 Jen has an interesting technique for the applique. It's a free motion zigzag.  Set your machine to a zigzag stitch, put on the free motion foot, lower the feed dogs and start stitching.  For best coverage, you move the piece back and forth along the applique edge until you have to coverage you want.  I used a variegated thread, the same I used to quilt the background.  At first I was going to go with my old standby of machine button hole stitch, but then I thought I had better try Jen's technique, since that is the reason to taking classes, to try something new.  I'm glad I did; I like the way it turned out.

Later that week, I came across the bag of wool for this project.  I'm going to the leave the pattern details a mystery until I get more accomplished.  My sister purchased this kit for me several years ago and it has sat in almost the same spot in my living room since I brought it home.  It's much to lovely to leave as skeins any longer.
By paying attention and lots of counting, I have only had to rip it out once.  Before I start the next pattern area, I will be sure to install a lifeline.  It's knit with two strands of lace weight wool held together.  The blue heart pin marks the centre of the pattern, which is a simple knit stitch with a yo to either side.

A while back I promised you a photo of the finished body builder afghan that I designed and knit for a friend of my son.  Well, they were thrilled with the results. I am hoping for a photo of the little guy with his blanket.  It was a lot of fun to create this piece, though I am in no hurry to make another like it.

Stitch'in Time is a regular Monday post where I share my current needlework projects with my readers.  I get so much encouragement from you all that it keeps my stitching even when I should be doing other things.  Mister Linky is waiting below for a link to your current needlework project.

Monday, 26 February 2018

Stitch`n Time - I finally used my sewing machine again.

 Oh gosh, it has been so long since I sat down to sew at my machine.  I just haven't been in the groove. Undoubtedly it has to do with not wanting to start anything new while I have so many unfinished projects.  To the creative person inside, that is like having only leftovers to eat day after day.

Tonight is my local quilt guild meeting and we have been asked to bring in heart pillows.  They are to be donated to the hospital for patients who have undergone open heart surgery.  After such a procedure, the chest is very delicate (with the sternum being cut open and spread). The patient holds the pillow to their chest before they cough/sneeze etc.

One lady from our guild has arranged with the hospital and they have given us specific details of what is needed.  An anonymous person has donated funds to purchase a large amount of stuffing. Now it is up to our members to make and stuff the pillows.  I have made three like the one shown and will take them to guild tonight for stuffing and stitching closed.

It may not be a glamorous project, but it is incredibly helpful to those who need these pillows and it did force me to my machine for something other than mending.

 I was at Lens Mills last week and found these rhinestone buckles that are the perfect addition to my new red necklace.  Perfect addition for a minimal price.  Never know what I will find in that store.  They also had two colours of #5 perle cotton that I need for another necklace pattern.   This one was stitched in #10 cotton, kinda thin.
Again, working in #10, this cord for the next necklace is getting close to long enough.  I need at least a metre and am close.  I found a nice flat knot that I think will look great.  Might need some hanging beads for the bottom, but won't know until it's tied.  This is rather fun to do and if I don't like any at the end, I can always pass them along to another.

While I was wandering the net, I came across this amazing site.  For a real treat, you must check out the work by Finnish artist Liisa Hietanen.  She creates sculpture using knit and crochet techniques.  They are mind blowing and so life like.

Thanks for visiting with Stitch'n Time today.  Link up your current needlework visit and I'll be sure to drop by.

Sunday, 25 February 2018

New Boy by Tracy Chevalier

A tragedy. 

Ian is an unhappy, controlling youth who can't stand for others to be happy or to appear to be one up on him.  He sets out to destroy the budding relationship between Osei and Dee.  This sets in motion a train wreck that can't be stopped.

Osei is the new boy in grade six.  As the son of a diplomat, he is used to moving and starting over.  He starts the morning thinking it will be like his many other first days.  He couldn't have been more wrong.

Dee, the golden haired school darling is immediately attracted to him.  She likes that he is unusual and particularly likes his dark skin.

Watching this happen is Ian, the class bully/bad boy.  He can't stand by and let this new relationship happen, nor can he let that black boy become popular.

Grade six should be fun and games.  It shouldn't be subject to one mis-guided child's manipulations.  I like the characters of Osei and Dee.  They had the potential of forming an honest friendship.  The character of Ian is so well developed that I could imagine the entire school falling prey to his manipulations.  He made evident weaknesses in the teachers and management of the school and even magnified them to his own benefit and Osei's detriment.

I am left wondering what the various participants in this tragedy could have done to change the outcome.  Perhaps one less secret kept, and more openness, or was it bound to happen once set in motion.  Either way, it is a haunting tale.

New Boy is a modern retelling of William Shakespeare's Othello, part of the Hogarth Shakespeare series.  Note: you don't have to have read Othello to understand this book.  This is not a childrens book even though the characters are young.

I received and an advanced reader copy of this book from Indigo Books & Music Inc., in exchange for an honest review.


Friday, 23 February 2018

Beautiful Scars: Steeltown Secrets, Mohawk Skywalkers and the Road Home by Tom Wilson

Adopted as a baby, Tom Wilson had asked his mother Bunny if he was adopted, but she never answered.  At the age of fifty-three the truth was finally revealed to him, yet it took him three more years to confirm with his birth mother.

After living an emotionally spartan life with his adoptive parents, the revelations of his birth mother opened up to him a rich and inclusive heritage in the Mohawk community.

I loved this book and Tom Wilson.  I knew nothing about him before I started reading. I was attracted to the story because he had been raised white and only found out as a middle age adult that he is Mohawk.  I enjoy reading books by Indigenous authors,  His re-telling of his life is an easy read, though not always comfortable.  It comes across as the type of conversation you might have sitting around a kitchen table late at night drinking many times refilled cups of herbal tea.

Tom is a down to earth kind of guy.  He is not your glitz and glamour rock star, but the un-assuming neighbour who wants to take care of his family and make music along the way. His humble beginnings are something that most readers will identify with and make you want to see him succeed in his struggles.

If you read only one biography or one indigenous book this year, I highly recommend Beautiful Scars.


Wednesday, 21 February 2018

One of Us is Lying by Karen M. McManus

A whirlwind that kept me off balance and guessing.

Five seniors are caught with cell phones in class and meet at after school detention.  Within minutes, one of them is dying from an anaphylactic reaction.  Soon the police and a very public media descend to investigate who is the perpetrator of this evil act.

Why would anyone want to kill Simon who had been their class mate for years.  Perhaps it was that gossip app, About That, that he created and used to spread juicy rumours about his school mates.  Each of the other four present had huge secrets that could pose dire consequences for them if Simon were to make his next post public.

This book was amazing.  I was hooked from the opening pages and did not want to put it down.  Details about the four suspects, Bronwyn, Addy, Nate and Cooper, were carefully released.  I found myself continually re-assessing my thoughts on who might be guilty.  About midway through the story, I thought I had it, but still had to determine the why and how.  Not that I didn't keep second guessing myself.

This is a well written debut novel.  The situation and the students felt real.  It had me calling aloud to them and urging them on in their investigations.  I give it top marks and would gladly recommend it to teen and young adult readers.  I eagerly look forward to Ms. McManus' next novel.

I received and advanced reader copy of this book from Indigo Books & Music Inc., in exchange for an honest review.


Monday, 19 February 2018

Stitch'n Time: Something New, Crocheted Jewellery

Hubby and I took a little road trip last week for a few days.  At one of our stops, I spied this barn quilt on the side of a sporting goods store in Clare, Michigan..  I thought I might see more of them in the area, but that was the only one.  Turns out that there are over thirty blocks in the area  and there is a map available from the Clare County Arts Council if you are interested in following the route.

Back at home I've been working on a few projects.

I had most of this done last week and only the final ribbing to complete.  It is made with Cascade Sateen Worsted, which is soft to the touch. I definitely want to work with this yarn again. 

 The dress code at work changed recently and most of my clothing is now black.  How boring.  We are allowed to bright it up with scarves and of course we can wear jewellery.  Since I enjoy my stitching time, why not stitch some necklaces.  This was a very simple repeat pattern of double crochets.  I happened to have a very large ball of #10 red cotton with a silver thread.

I have yet to join the ends, but first I am deciding whether to add some sort of pendant.

Also in that random collection of cones of cotton, I have one of #10 pink and white.  The cord is made of a round of six front post double crochets.  The pattern is from an ancient pattern from Annie's Attic: Strings'n Strands.  I'm not making the necklace as shown, just using the instructions for the cord.  At this point, not sure how I'll complete this.  Three options I am considering: add a pendant, tie a chunky knot, at a crocheted flower and leaves.  Lots of options.

I haven't done much in a the area of jewellery making.  Over the years I have made a few barrettes. but not much else.  Once I started looking, there are quite a few patterns available for stitching necklaces of various types.  I could enjoy this for a while.

I'd be interested in viewing any of your posts of jewellery that  my viewers have made.

Stitch'n Time is a regular Monday post where I share my stitching projects.  Mister Linky is waiting below for you to join in the fun.

Friday, 16 February 2018

Nancy Drew Girl Detective: En Garde #17 by Carolyn Keene

It's probably been forty years since I last read a Nancy Drew novel, but when I saw this one, I had to read it.  I fenced for a few years with my local club and wanted to see how the author handed the subject.

Nancy was attending a fencing match that her friend George is competing in, when one of the fencers is injured.  Was it an equipment failure or was it sabotage.  She is pulled into an investigation in the hopes that her friend and the other members of her club won't get injured.

For the most part, this story read just like the books from my youth.  Nancy and her friends solving mysteries in a fairly straight forward manner.  There were a few technical errors with regard to the fencing details.  Only an experienced fencer would notice them, and they did not impair my enjoyment of the story.

While this is part of a series, you don't have to read the earlier books to enjoy this one.  The author introduces the returning characters, Nancy's family and friends, and those that are part of the mystery are all new.  These books are written for a 9-12 audience, though the material is suitable for a younger, more advanced reader.

Cover image courtesy Simon and Schuster Canada.


Wednesday, 14 February 2018

The Journey of Little Charlie by Christopher Paul Curtis

1850's South Carolina

Little Charlie was anything but little.  At twelve years old, he stood well over six feet tall and weighed as much as a grown man.  This served him well when working in the fields with his share cropper parents.

After his father's untimely death, Charlie reluctantly agrees to go with the overseer at the neighbouring farm to retrieve some escaped slaves who were now living in Detroit.  Little Charlie could never have imagined the profound impact that this journey would have on his life.

Author Christopher Paul Curtis has spun a tale that could have been pulled straight from the history books.  Set at a time when the United States was still divided on slave ownership, Little Charlie quickly begins to question many of the lies he had believed about coloured people.  The biggest revelations come when he has a conversation with Sylvanus Demarest, the young black man that he and the overseer are attempting to lure back to Detroit. 

This is a well written and researched story that illustrates some of the horrors of the slave trade.  While there is yet much to be atoned for, this book is a welcome addition to the existing narratives I've read previously in my quest to learn and understand more about the events of that complex time.

I received and advanced reader copy of this book from Indigo Books & Music Inc., in exchange for an honest review. 


Monday, 12 February 2018

Stitch'n Time - On a Roll

 It was wonderful to cuddle under my newly finished afghan.  I started this back in 2014 as part of a crochet-along hosted by Red Heart Yarns.   The solid colour blocks are made in a variety of stitches which has resulted in some nice thick fabrics.
 The outer edge is made from a very simple pattern.  Single crochet- chain two- single crochet all in the same stitch, then skip the next stitch and repeat.

In the summer this will be added into our camper for extra cuddliness when out and enjoying our camping adventures.
With that project completed, I wanted a small one that I could complete in a shorter time frame.  Last fall I had purchased a kit for a cowl.  Perfect.  I contained the pattern and Cascade Sateen Worsted weight yarn.   Since daughter and I spent some quality stitching time together this weekend, I am almost finished.  I have about one inch of ribbing to do yet and then cast off.

After this, I determined to do some quilting.  I did very little last year, even though I did purchase a new sewing machine.  Not to sure why I hardly sewed a thing, perhaps I just needed a break.  I do have a few projects I want to finish. The first won't take long and then next, probably less than ten hours.  It would be great to get them done so I can move on to a special sewing project that I am making as a special request.

Do you make special request projects?  Mostly I like to do my own thing, but occasionally, I find that I can't say no to someone.  This one I never even considered 'no'. I knew I wanted to do it and bring joy to the recipient.   It will include some simple piecing, perhaps some hand applique and quilting and a secret added touch or two.  On top of that, I'm going to enjoy making it and especially, giving it to her.  You'll have to wait for photos though since I have nothing to show at this moment.

Thanks for joining me for Stitch'n Time.  Mister Linky is waiting below for a link to your current Stitching project.

Friday, 9 February 2018

The Lost Rainforest: Mez's Magic by Eliot Schrefer

Wonderful story with adorable characters that readers are going to fall in love with.

There are day animals and there are night animals.  No one would ever dare venture outside at the wrong hours, it's just not done.  Mez is a black panther, a night walker.  As his first birthday approaches, he finds himself awake and alert during the daytime hour.  Even though he knows it is wrong and that he could be banished from his family, he decides to go outside during the day.  It is then  that he meets another shadowwalker (one who fins it natural to go outside at the wrong hours) and learns of an ancient enemy that is awakening.  only the shadowwalkers can save the animals of the rain forest from this dark and dangerous power.

I fell in love with this story and it' characters from the very first pages.  Author Eliot Schrefer managed to combine the cute cuddly appeal of young animals with human like personas and make it very believable.  I could easily imagine Mez meeting up with Rumi the tree frog, and them becoming friends and companions.

From a parent point of view, there are lots of good things contained in this book.  Mez's twin sister Chumba has a birth defect which in the real would would have caused her to have been rejected by her family.  Instead, Mez has become herfierce protector.

Mez meets a wide variety of animals during this adventure.  Most would naturally be either his foe or food.  Though he is uncomfortable and suspicious of many of them at first, with time he learns to accept most of them and becomes the best of friends with several.

Each book in this series will be told from the point of view of a different animal.

I received and advanced reader copy of this book from Harper Collins Canada in exchange for an honest review.


Wednesday, 7 February 2018

Max Tilt: Fire the Depths by Peter Lerangis

This book has everything that adventurous middle grade readers are looking for.  An awkward 13 year old student, a tag along baby sitter, mysterious clues and a submarine.

Even though they barely know each other, Max and his older cousin Alex make a great team.  They almost seem to know what the other is going to do next, or else they both are good at adapting to surprises. 

Max is the great great something grandson of Jules Verne and Alex is his great great something niece.  She comes to watch Max when his dad accompanies his mother to the hospital for treatment.  Finding that the family is in great financial hardship, Alex encourages Max to help her find items within the house that they can sell to raise some funds.  While searching, they come across a mysterious chest  that Max speculates belonged to Jules Verne.  This starts the two of them on a daring expedition that takes them places they couldn't have imagined.

This is a fun story that should appeal to both male and female readers.  The mystery is complex enough to engage older middle school readers and the humour is age appropriate.

I received an advanced reader copy of this book from Indigo Books & Music Inc., in exchange for an honest review.

Cover image courtesy Harper Collins Canada.


Monday, 5 February 2018

Stitch'n Time - Reasons to Stitch in a Timelty Manner

 I was reminded of an important lesson today, yarn colours are not available forever.  I started this project in about 2014.  I completed all the blocks at that time and thought I had enough left for the borders.  Oops.

I did the first two rounds in the green and had 1 metre left .  That was close.  I wanted to do seven rounds in the variegated yarn.  After three and a half rows I was out . A quick trip to the store should take care of that as I had checked that Red Heart was still making that colour.  Just because they make it doesn't mean the stores in my area actually stock and sell it.  Well, I learned they don't.  Okay, next option, purchase more of the blue.  Easier said than done.  There are lots of blues out there, but finding the exact one, nope.  I did manage to find one left over ball at a store, but it wasn't listed in their stock.  Lucky for me.
I have one and a half  balls of the blue to finish the final three rounds.  Should be ample (she says with her fingers crossed).

When I purchase fabric for a quilt, I always buy oodles extra. can't have too much fabric is my motto, but when it comes to yarn, I can only make a lame guess.  I do know that I never have enough when I purchase exactly when the pattern instructs.  One ball extra is usually enough, but not always.  One pattern I needed 3 more balls than stated, but my project ended up the correct size.  When I contacted the publisher with my findings, I was ignored.  Made the afghan a second time and knew to purchase lots extra.  Needed the same amount the second time.    Hopefully I have learned my lesson and will either purchase ample supplies, or I'll finish in a more timely manner in the event that I require additional skeins.

If you click on the first picture you should be able to view an enlarged photo and see the details of the solid blocks.  They are each different stitch patterns.  Those blocks are much more firm that the granny squares.  This is going to be a warm blanket which I am thinking will find a home in our camper.

I hope that you manged to find some Stitch'n Time this past week.  Mister Linky is waiting below for a link to your current needlework post.

Tuesday, 30 January 2018

The Hazel Wood by Melissa Albert

If you are one of the many who think fairy tales are the stuff of childhood, then get prepared.  The Hazel Wood may be built upon fairy tales but they have been amped up and twisted at least a few times.

Alice Crewe knows that her grandmother Althea Proserpine wrote a book of fairy tales that has a devoted cult following.  She's tried to read them, but the one time she found a copy of the book, it was snatched away from her.

For years, Alice and her mother Ella have lived a nomadic lifestyle, always trying to elude the bad luck that seems to follow them.  When events take a terrifying turn for the worst, Alice knows that she must find the Hazel Wood and attempt to set things right.

I was carried away by this story.  It had a great mix of real world and magic, that blended so well that it blurred the boundary.  Did the Hazel Wood really exist in our world, or was it imagination based.  Could you wander into it if you didn't know it was there.  At times I found myself  yelling aloud warning to Alice and Finch as though they could hear me through the pages.  Perhaps they could hear me and my words helped change their stories. Who can really tell.

I loved  the characters of Alice and of Finch.  She is angry inside thought can't pinpoint why.  Most of the time she can hold it together, which speaks of her strong will.  When she turns to Finch for help and support, she shows her smart side that sense his strength of character and his resourcefulness.

This is a wonderful debut novel by author Melissa Albert.  I have no doubt that her future tales will have me gripping my book with white knuckles as I hang on her every word.

Cover image courtesy MacMillan Publishers.

I received and advance reader copy of this book from Indigo Books & Music Inc., in exchange for an honest review.


Monday, 29 January 2018

Stitch'n Time - Some Times You Have to Jump into the Deep End

 I undertook an interesting search on the web last week.  I was looking for the perfect method to join together the blocks for a set of crocheted blocks.  The pattern suggested using a whip stitch, but I didn't want that look. I envisioned something different.  I found several lovely methods but mostly they were too elaborate for my project.  In the end, I went with my gut and simple chains. I could have put off my decision and did some more searching, but I didn't think I was going to come up with a stitch that I would like even better.  Time to jump in and go.

 I started at a corner and did a single crochet.  Then chain two and single crochet in the corner on the other block.  Chain two and crochet in the first stitch on block one.  Chain two and crochet in the second stitch in block two.  Then continue to alternate blocks skipping a stitch.  I did have to fudge a bit as I didn't have the exact number of stitches around the border as the patterns suggested.

I am really happy with how this is going.  So far I have attached 8 of the 20 blocks. 

Getting this much done has gotten me excited about this project once again.  I am now looking forward to the next step, which is the out borders.

I also have another project that I need to jump back into.  A friend, my mom and I took a quilt class together late last spring.  My friend finished her project, but mine is still sitting.  I promised her I would finish mine so it could be exhibited along with hers at a quilt show in March (?).  I had better jump into it.  It would be great to attend the show and see our items displayed together.

Do you find that there are times, when you have to stop the planning and second guessing your self, and just jump in and get it done.  I think that we all reach that point every so often and I'm glad I realized it with this afghan and now I can visualize it completed.

Thanks for visiting with me for Stitch'n Time today.  Mister Linky is waiting below for a link to your current needlework post.

Friday, 26 January 2018

Walking the Bones - Ryan DeMarco Mystery 2 by Randall Silvis

This story picks up where Two Days Gone, book 1 in the Ryan DeMarco Mystery ends. DeMarco is still mouning the passing of his son more than a decade earlier and the loss of his friend Professor Huston and his family earlier in the year.  Not coping well with this emotional burden, he heads off in an RV along with his romantic partner Trooper Jayme Matson.

 It isn't long before they get pulled into a  cold case that won't let either of them walk away.  The bones of seven young women had been found hidden in a church.  Though they had been identified, no one was ever charged in their murders.  This just doesn't sit well with either Ryan nor Jayme.

I found the pace of the story a bit slow in the first quarter where we are learning more about DeMarco's back ground and what events made him the man he is.  Additional details of Jayme's background are slowly revealed and tend to balance his memories.  Once they hit their stride in this renewed investigation, the pace of the story picks up and begins to soar.  At this point I only stopped reading as I couldn't keep my eyes open any longer.

I still love the character of Sergeant Ryan DeMarco.  He makes for a great investigator and someone I want to spend my time with.  Jayme is still a bit of a mystery to me and that's a good thing.  If everything about a character was spelled out in the opening chapters, it would make for a less enticing read and would leave less for future chapters.

This is an excellent follow-up to the series debut. You could possibly read this on it's own as author Randall Silvis did a wonderful job of catching the reader up on what happened in the first book, though he didn't spoon feed us, he made us work to glean the details.  The two are very different style books.  The first is more about the investigation and why the murders happened, where this one is more about DeMarco and what makes him tick.  I certainly hope that there will be more for him to investigate in the near future.

Also by Randall Silvis:

Two Days Gone

Rafflecopter Giveaway Embedded: a Rafflecopter giveaway Link: http://www.rafflecopter.com/rafl/display/54ca7af7611/? No purchase necessary to enter or win. A purchase does not improve your chances of winning. VOID WHERE PROHIBITED BY LAW. Open to legal residents of USA who are 18 years or older. Giveaway begins January 15th and ends February 1st at 12:00 AM. Enter the Giveaway during the Promotion Period online by submitting the entry form. The entry form can be found on the following website at. Winner will be selected by Random.org and be notified by email. Winner has 48 hours to respond before a new winner is selected. 3 winner(s) will receive 1 finished copy of Walking the Bones (approximate retail value or "ARV": $15.99US). By providing your information in this form, you are providing your information to Sourcebooks. Sourcebooks does not share or sell information and will use any information only for the purpose of this giveaway. (Facebook, Twitter, and Goodreads) are in no way associated with this giveaway.

 I received an advanced reader copy of this book from Sourcebooks in exchange for an honest review.


Wednesday, 24 January 2018

The Widows of Malabar Hill by Sujata Massey

A look in on the lives of women in India during the 1920's.  For the most part, men controlled women's lives.   Even though Perveen Mistry had graduated law school at Oxford, she struggled to be accepted as a lawyer in Bombay. 

While completing paperwork to settle the estate of one of the firms clients, she realizes that something is amiss.  She is determined to speak with the man's three widows and verify their true intentions with regard to their inheritances.  Most lawyers at that time would never consider speaking with widows who lived in seclusion and would deal only with their designated agent.  What a unique opportunity for Perveen to represent these women and ensure that their wishes were honestly protected.

I really enjoyed this novel.  Author Sujata Massey has created a strong female character in Perveen.  She does have her flaws such as her failed marriage which continues to haunt her.

By intertwining the story of her marriage and the plight of the widows, I was kept on the edge of my seat waiting to see what would be revealed next.  Alice, her school friend from Oxford, was a brilliant inclusion.  She helped add balance and realism to the story.  Even with her family's elevated status in India, she was still limited as a woman in what she could do and where she could go.

This is an excellent start to a new series.  I can imagine many avenues that Perveen and Alice have yet to explore.  This story should appeal to those looking for a legal mystery, but also to those wanting to read about a strong woman with the will to make change.

I received and advanced readers copy from Soho Press in exchange for an honest review. 


Monday, 22 January 2018

Stitch'n Time - Have I Accomplished Anything?

I am having one of those days where I question whether I accomplished any thing in the past week.   I didn't sit at my sewing machine once and I miss it.  I did knit.  I have been working on the body builder afghan and have now completed all the part that makes up the body and the weights.  Six more rows till I start the top border.  At this point you will have to wait until after it is delivered for a finish photo.

I also prepared a presentation for work.  It was a workshop for teens, which I'll say went well even though we didn't really have any teens attend.  I had a curated selection of poetry books and prepared materials, but there just weren't any teens in the store during that time period.  Other shoppers did approach and another co-worker (a teen) and I spoke with them about what we were doing.  They were totally on board with it, writing and posting notes with positive messages.  I sent my co-worker home with all the messages we created for her to post around her high school.  I also got to try out one of the 7 year pens that we sell.  It's from Seltzer Goods.  It does write nicely, though I still prefer my fountain pens for writing at home.

In between knitting and planning, I finished reading a few books and managed to post some book reviews.  I have fallen behind on those lately.  Too many work hours during the holiday season which is still continuing.  arg, I want more time at home for stitching.  I also spent some time planning.  at the top, is an afghan I started a few years ago.  At that time I finished all the blocks and then it got packed away as we were having visitors for a few weeks.

I would like to try and join the blocks together by crochet and have pinned a tutorial that looks reasonable.  After that, it needs a few border rows around the outside, which is on the pattern somewhere.

When I reflect back, it was more of a productive week than I had thought.  I should take Kate's suggestion from last weeks comments, and keep an ongoing list of finished for the year.  That way, an easy look will give the information I need and the moral boost at the same time.

I hope that you all have had a wonderful and productive stitchin' week.  Did you write about it on your blog, if so, Mister Linky is waiting below for you to add your link.  Happy stitchin' and I'll see you again next week.

Sunday, 21 January 2018

Swing it, Sunny by Jennifer L. Holm & Matthew Holm

Sunny has had a lot of changes in her life lately.  She's started middle school and her adored older brother has been sent to a boarding school.  Talking to her grandfather once a week really helps, but she's still sad.

at first this story seemed all over the place, then I realized that Sunny's life was continuing with her varied activities even thought her brother wasn't at home. Yes, she had sad moments, but mostly her  life was continuing on track.  She really started turning things around when she stopped feeling sad for herself and started to consider her brother's feelings.  It's a big step for any person to realize that the world doesn't revolve solely around them.  Once Sunny reached out to her brother she started to feel better and so did he.

This is a touching story about Sunny's concern for her brother.  She learned a lot about what it means to be part of a family.

This graphic novel is suitable for middle school and younger readers who read at an advanced level.

I received and advanced readers copy of this book from Indigo Music & Books Inc., in exchange for an honest review.


Friday, 19 January 2018

Love, Hate & Other Filters by Samira Ahmed

Maya is in her final year of high school in a small American town.  She is quiet and often hides behind her video camera which she employees to make documentaries.  She'd love to attend NYU for film studies though her parents expect her to follow their wishes of meeting a nice Indian boy while she attends a near by law school.  Maya is torn between pleasing her parents and following her heart  All these plans are thrown in turmoil when a response to a serious incident elsewhere in the country unleashes islamaphobic attacks upon the family.

Maya is your typical girl next door that you'd want your child to be friends with.  She is kind and sensitive to others, smart and studies hard.  She also happens to be Indian and Muslim.  These shouldn't and don't matter to most people, but there are some who hold these differences against her.  Just because a person is different than you, it doesn't automatically diminish that person nor does it make them bad.

At an age where so many teens are struggling with what they want to do with their future, Maya has a very clear view.  She wants to study film so she can make and direct documentary films.  She also wants to be able to tell her parents that she wants a love match and not an arranged marriage.  She wants to be given the freedom to make her own choices.

I love this book.  It spoke to me on so many levels.  As a parent, Maya is a daughter that I would be pleased to call my own. She was brought up in a warm and loving family by attentive parents.  She is intelligent and well prepared to face the adult world.  When the world crashes into her life and her family, her response is realistic.  She is concerned for the well being of those who were directly impacted by the incident before she questions how this might reflect back on the Muslim communities across the United States.

Author Samira Ahmed has shone a light on an ugly incident of the type that happens far too often in our so called 'civilized communities'.  She helps to call attention to racial and religious bigotry.  Such hatred has no place in this world.  All it does is create damage.  Education is the best weapon against such ignorant actions.  This book needs to be widely read.  It would be a good starting place for class room discussions about combating racism.  This is a strong debut novel by Ms. Ahmed and I eagerly await her next novel.

I received an advanced reader copy of this book from Indigo Books & Music Inc., in exchange for an honest review.

Cover image courtesy Penguin Random House Canada.


Thursday, 18 January 2018

Fortunately, the Milk by Neil Gaiman

I loved this book.  It is wonderfully creative.

It's the story of a seemingly absent minded father who steps out of the house for a few minutes to buy milk for his children's breakfast.  His is gone a very long time.  When he returns home with the milk,  the children ask what took so long.  This launches dad into a fantastic tale.  With time travel, dinosaurs and aliens, what child wouldn't be entrance to listen to their father read them such a tale.  Did I mention pirates?

This is a wonderfully told tale that had me hanging on every word.  Oh, please Mr. Gaiman, write more for children.  You definitely have a gift of knowing what they love to hear.

If you are looking for a book for a new or expectant dad, or heck, any dad, Fortunately, the Milk, would be the perfect choice.

I listened to the unabridged audio book as read by Mr. Gaiman.  1 hour. Suitable for young readers.

Be sure to read what Mr. Gaiman has to say about this book.

Cover image courtesy HarperCollins Canada

Monday, 15 January 2018

Stitch'n Time - Heads up on current project

I have been having such fun with this project.  Even though I designed the pattern and totally understand the concept of knitting and purling, it still amazes me to watch the image come to life.   The part that was giving me the most worry, was how the face would turn out.  It didn't have to  resemble the baby's father, but it did need to look human.  I am so pleased with the results.  Yes, he does rather have a grimace on his face, but remember that he is hoisting a massive amount of weight on that barbell.
It will be exciting to pass this along to my son to gift to his friend.  You will get to view overall photos once it has been delivered.

I have a few more inches to stitch and then I'll give it a gentle wash, pin it out and let it dry.

As this project draws near to close, I have been thinking of what to work on next.  I do have another unfinished knit afghan as well as a crocheted one that needs the blocks stitched together and then a border added.  Then again, there is that new ball of yarn destined to become a hat....

Today I have a rather fun experience at work.  I know it isn't mainly stitching related, but I do want to share.  One of the librarians from the school that our store adopted in the fall came in to purchase books with the donated money.  She has a lot of buying to do as our store and customers raised well over $7000.00.  That equated to approximately 700 new books for their school library.  Today she selected 88.  One of the books was a knitting instructional book.  The librarian said that when she loans it out, she is going to include a pair of knitting needles and a ball of yarn.  The children from that school are generally not well off and there is no sense in borrowing a knitting book if you don't have supplies.  How thoughtful of her.   I'm going to look through my supplies and select some for her.  Who knows, perhaps the kids will start a knitting club at their school.

Thanks for joining me for Stitch'n Time.  I'll be back again next Monday with my next project.

Mister Linky is waiting below for a link to your current needlework post.

Monday, 8 January 2018

Stitch'n Time - All New for a New Year

Welcome to my inaugural post for Stitch'n Time.  It was a hard decision to retire Needlework Tuesday, but it needed to be done.  Frequent readers realize that along with my needlework posts, I also read a lot and post reviews of those books.  What I didn't know when I started my needlework column, is that new books are traditionally released on Tuesdays.  Now that I am a book seller, I thought it was important for me to be able to post related reviews on their date of release.

Stitch'n Time will be a work in progress.  Mostly I will be sharing my needlework progress on an assortment of techniques and projects.  I would like to add a few tutorials as well as group projects/challenges.  Details on those are still very loose.  What will never change is the encouragement I get from my readers .  I love your comments as they boost me along and keep my moving forward.  Also returning will be Mister Linky so that readers can add a link to their current needlework post.

I hope that you will join me on Mondays for Stitch'n Time.

With all the extra hours I worked over the holidays, I didn't have much time for stitching.  Sure, I buried a few yarn ends and knit a row or two, but no major amounts of progress were made.  It's just in the past few days that I've had a chance to spend a notable block of time knitting.

I have been focused on this baby blanket.  The little boy is getting bigger, but this is an oversized blanket, so it won't be a problem.  He is still in the baby category so it will still count as a baby gift.

For new visitors, the dad is a body builder and my son asked me to make a blanket with that theme.  When I couldn't find a suitable pattern, I designed my own starting an online open image.  Shown in this image is the torso up to the underarm area.  I am really pleased with how this is turning out.  I'll keep you updated with my progress.

Since I haven't had a needlework post in a few weeks, feel free to add your linky to your recent stitch'n posts from the past few weeks.

Friday, 5 January 2018

Fairy Mom and Me by Sophie Kinsella

Fun early chapter book.

Her mother is a fairy and Ella can't wait to be just like her.  One of her favourite activiites is to watch while her mothers works on her online fairy classes.  Ella loves those classes and finds them useful when her mother has trouble working any of her spells (which happens far too often).

This would be a great selection for mothers and daughters to read together.  Ella and her mother are very supportive of each other.  They encourage the other to do her best and never make fun nor tease when something does't go well or as planned.

The story of Ella and her mom has the stamp of approval of author Sophie Kinsella's own children.

I received an advanced reader copy of this book from Penguin Random House Canada in exchange for an honest review.